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by Wayne Blank
There are a number of examples in Bible History of the taking of trophies, not merely spoils of war, but the weapons or armor of a defeated enemy. In ancient times the trophy could also include the head of a defeated king or warrior. The best-known examples of that are when the Philistines took the beheaded body and armor of King Saul after he was killed in battle at Mount Gilboa. The other famous example is David's taking the Philistine giant Goliath's head and armor - the head to Jerusalem, the armor to his own tent
There are those who believe that David didn't kill Goliath with the sling and stone, but merely disabled the giant man with it long enough to behead him - which is possible.
Others believe that Goliath was indeed killed by the stone that actually pierced his skull (people have been killed from being hit in the head with baseballs and hockey pucks, so why not a high velocity stone that actually enters the skull?) and that David beheaded the dead, or about to die, Goliath for a trophy. The Scripture account doesn't say that the stone merely bounced off his head, but that it actually penetrated his brain, which is very likely a mortal wound. Logic implies that if his reason for beheading Goliath was just to kill him, he wouldn't have taken the head with him back to Jerusalem:
"And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth."
Saul's head and armor were taken by the Philistines after he was killed in battle against them:
"And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa."
Fact Finder: Was the head of John the Baptist taken as a trophy by those who had him murdered?